Interesting post about attitudinal accuracy in historical fiction. rachelmanija has an excellent parallel:
One of the things that I consider an interesting conundrum on the strictly-historically-accurate side is that even if you present the timeperiod as it was (bad teeth, say, or smallpox scars), a modern reader will apply more weight to those facts than a contemporary of the time would've, because it was normal then, but would be unusual now.And there's still the other problem: If you want complete historical fidelity in your fic, you must go to the writings of the time (if any.) Modern fic must still *consciously* appeal to modern attitudes.
I was thinking about that as well. If, say, in the future we go completely over to extremely safe modes of public transportation, and cars come to be regarded as death machines and symbols of the horrifying callousness of a time which casually accepted that tens of thousands were killed every year simply from trying to get from point A to point B, then every moment someone in a historical novel from the future gets in a car, the author will struggle with how to deal with that.
If the characters think of the possibility of death, is that projecting attitudes on them? If they don't, will that be too unsympathetic or strange?
(Though me, I see nothing yucky about marrying your stepmother and wonder why everyone is going yuck yuck yuck over Henry Esmond. Then again, I wonder why they go yuck yuck yuck at the barest hint of student-teacher pairings, or 15 year olds with 20 year olds, and conclude it's one of this century and that country's cultural hot buttons.)